just cheer up

Anxiety + Depression = :C

How many times am I going to hear “it’ll be okay, it gets better”? I’ll live, but no, it won’t get better. I have a mental illness. It’s not just a “bad day.”

Look back on your most recent bad day and play back some of the thoughts you had. They could be anywhere in this range (as well as a plethora of other thoughts):

  • Embarrassing childhood memories (or more recent memories)
  • Financial woes
  • Feelings of self-loathing
  • Not wanting anyone to make eye contact with you because you’re just not sure you can force a smile again today
  • Unable to hold a decent conversation without alcohol first (or some other form of self-medication)
  • Sometimes calling in “sick” to work because leaving bed is not a viable option
  • Can’t hold a full-time job; then feeling worse because you feel useless/lazy/pathetic/weak/stupid
  • Trying so hard to escape the feelings of shame or guilt in past interactions that you have to literally make noise to distract your mind
    • saying “no” repeatedly
    • singing tuneless songs
    • “STOP.”
  • Just knowing that all of your friends actually hate you and are embarrassed by you
  • Crying because someone sneezed in your general direction, then crying more because you cried over something so insignificant
  • Being unable to even move at all because you just want to stare at the wall for a few hours
  • Sleeping for 10 hours at night then taking 3-4 hour naps during the day
  • Wishing someone would kill you because you’re too passive and scared to do it yourself
  • Feeling like you’ve never actually felt happy before; it was all just a mask and sadness is the only real emotion you’ve ever had

The list can go on for pages; it’s certainly not all-inclusive. Not everyone with depression has the same symptoms but every single one of those points (plus a few) are how I feel and think when I have a “bad day.” Antidepressants help, as does therapy, but next time someone says “aww, it’ll be okay, just keep your chin up” to me I might punch them.

I work so hard to manage and control these awful symptoms each and every minute of every single day and I know full well that this will likely continue for the remainder of my life. The most insulting thing to hear after endlessly fighting my demons to the point of complete mental exhaustion is “cheer up”. If it were that simple there would not be a single depressed person alive. That phrase is so impactful in a negative way to those with mental illnesses and means so little to the people that say it. If I broke my wrist would you still tell me “it’ll be fine, just use it again” or “stop telling me it hurts, you’re just having an off day; it’ll be fine tomorrow”?

I’m sure you’re thinking “that’s different, though!” It is, but it’s a perfect example of how thoughtless these comments can be to someone who is stepping closer and closer to the edge every day in spite of their constant efforts to move back to safety. Sometimes it’s tempting to give in and be done with it.

Other times, the true understanding and kindness of those in my life keep me here. My family and friends may not have depression or anxiety, but they know that I do. They know that sometimes I’ll flake out on small plans because of it, yet they also know I will always do everything I can to make up for lost time. They know that sometimes I’ll distance myself or lash out, but they know not to take it personally. They’ve seen me in the worst points of my life and how hard I work to not be that person every day. They don’t feed me the bullshit lies that I will be better soon or that it won’t last forever because they know it won’t. But they do know that with their support and understanding it’s 100x easier for me to feel good on most days.

When a friend of yours talks about having a mental illness please do not lie to them. All you need to say is “I’m sorry, that sucks. I’m here for you.”

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